As with the case in 2011, my best album pick in 2012 isn’t from this year. It’s Partie Traumatic by the Black Kids, an indie pop gem from 2008.
Which is kind of strange, since 2012 is the year I listened to the most number of new albums, most of them from bands I’ve never heard before, like Pinback and Work Drugs and Hotel Diablo and dozens of others, covering various genres, from metal to indie rock to dream pop, to a smattering of sad bastard music. It’s just that, when I sit down and assess the previous months and think of a fitting soundtrack, it’s Partie Traumatic that immediately pops in mind. The fact that it’s the album that has stayed the longest in my iPod says something about it.
(It’s actually a tough choice between this and Candlebox’s Love Stories and Other Musings. But since I like to remember 2012 as one big helluva party, as opposed to a 12-month heartache, I picked Partie Traumatic. Yeah.)
Not to say, though, that the new releases suck. There are actually a lot of runner-ups, special for one reason or another: Napalm Death’s Utilitarian unleashed my pent-up angst and was for those nights I felt like breaking windows and faces. Ditto with Baphomet’s Death in the Beginning, which re-introduced blood and gore to my playlist, and Shining’s Redefining Darkness, an open invitation to suicide. I also remember how Anathema’s Weather System made my wife cry because of its sheer loneliness, how Work Drug’s Delta made my introduction to dream pop a trippy experience, how Lana del Rey’s Born to Die made me want to seduce teenage girls, how Muse’s The 2nd Law, Ball Park Music’s Museum and Pinback’s Information Retrieved made me wonder how these three bands missed my radar for so long.
And then there are the others, new and old: Rancid’s Let the Dominoes Fall (2009); Sleeper Agent’s Celebrasion (2011); The Naked and the Famous’ Passive Me, Aggressive You (2010); Modest Mouse’s We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank (2007); Yo La Tengo’s Fade; Floating Action’s Fake Blood; Soundgarden’s King Animal; Jackyl’s Best in Show; Hotel Diablo’s The Return to Psycho, California; Shinedown’s Amaryllis; Neil Halstead’s Palindrome Hunches; Van Halen’s A Different Kind of Truth; Skunk Anansie’s Black Traffic; and the compilation album Re-Machined: A Tribute to Deep Purple. In one way or another, these albums — and many more that I may have forgotten — helped me survive this sad, mad roller-coaster ride that is 2012.
All in all, it has been a good year, music-wise, and I’m already excited about what next year will bring. If things go out as scheduled, there will be a new Black Sabbath album, their first with Ozzy Osbourne on vocals after so many years. Also, a new Megadeth. My ears can’t wait.